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them to overawe and gradually absorb all the southern provinces of China. After his victory over his rival the forces of this Ming prince had advanced towards Canton, and taken up a strong position at Chowking, a town situated west of that city on the Sikiang river. But their heart failing them, they withdrew into the interior of Kwangsi, where, in a difficult country with few roads, they might hope to prolong the struggle with better chances of success. The result justified their anticipations, for the Manchus were at last compelled to recognize that they had advanced as far as their available strength permitted them to go. It was not until they had suffered two repulses in front of Kueiling that they felt constrained to admit this much, and, although fresh troops were summoned in all haste from the North, Kwei Wang continued to maintain his authority in Kwangsi for a much longer period than seemed possible after the capture of Canton. The disappearance of one of the Ming princes had had the effect of consolidating the power of the other.
Nor when the Tartar reinforcements reached the scene of action, early in the year 1648, were their efforts attended with a more happy result. The courage of the Chinese was greatly restored by their two successes at Kueiling, and Kiuchessa's measures were marked by the necessary admixture of boldness and prudence. This brave leader had the satisfaction of beholding the Manchus again recoil before the fortress which he had already twice defended against them with success. The effect produced by these reverses was electrical. Those who had given in their adhesion to the Tartars allowed themselves to revert to their natural
sympathies, and the defection of two commanders, Li Ching Tong and Kinchin Hoan, who had greatly contributed to the Manchu conquest of Southern China, completed the subversion in this quarter of the realm of the newly erected authority of the young Emperor Chuntche. Not only was Canton lost in this wave of popular excitement and enthusiasm, but the provinces of Kiangsi and Fuhkien broke off their connection with Pekin and expelled the Manchu. The authority of Kwei Wang was proclaimed throughout the whole of the South, and, after seeming destruction, promised to take deeper root than ever. This resuscitation of the Ming power was probably wholly deceptive in inducing people to believe that Kwei Wang's position was secure, and that the Manchus might yet be successfully resisted and repelled. But, of course, it compelled the Manchus to undertake over again the subjugation of these provinces; and this task was entrusted to fresh troops drawn from the North and commanded in the field by the best Tartar generals.
The good fortune of the Prince of Kwei, after attaining this height of success, proved of short duration. The province of Fuhkien was the first to feel the returning force of the Manchus. In that province a Buddhist priest had raised a mighty gathering of the people, and had for a time subverted the Tartar authority. The presence off the coast of Koshinga's fleet lent some character to this otherwise badly organized and insignificant agitation, but even the war-junks of Ching Chelong's wrathful son could not enable the people of Fuhkien to withstand the brunt of Manchu attack. The monk defended himself during two months in Kienning with resolution ; but the Manchus at last carried it by storm, and put every man inside the town to the sword. By this single success the Manchus recovered the province of Fuhkien, and Koshinga's fleet put to sea without venturing to take any part in the contest.
Many of the Manchu troops had retired on the proclamation of the Prince of Kwei to Kanchow, where they made all preparations for holding out until relief came. The Chinese commander Kinchin made several abortive attempts to take it, and Li Ching Tong was not more successful. When the Tartar reinforcements arrived from Nankin and Fuhkien they amounted to an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men ; and neither Kinchin nor Li Ching Tong felt able to oppose it in the field. They resorted to Fabian tactics, hoping to tire out their enemy, but the strategy of the Manchus proved the superior. By a skilfully conducted maneuvre Chuntche's general enclosed Kinchin in the town of Kanchang, where he was placed at a serious disadvantage. His rashness had invited disaster, and only by a desperate effort did he succeed in cutting his way out again. Even then escape
THE MANCHU TRIUMPH.
was denied him, for his assailants, gathering from all quarters, attacked him while crossing the river. Kinchin himself was drowned, and most of his men perished either by the sword or in the water. Kanchang surrendered, and its garrison was massacred.
Nor was Li Ching Tong's end more fortunate. After a fresh repulse before Kanchow, he was obliged by the clamour of his troops to make a retreat, when his army gradually dwindled away. It is said that he sought relief for his distress and disappointment in the wine-cup; but, by a strange coincidence, he met his death in a similar manner to his colleague, being drowned in the swollen waters of a stream which he was crossing. With the loss of these two generals and the crushing overthrow of a third in a battle at Siangtan in Hoonan, the chances of the Prince of Kwei, which had at one time appeared so promising, were conclusively shown to be hollow, and the complete success of the Manchu arms became assured. From this time henceforth there will be no real fluctuation in the fortunes of the strife, and the progress of the establishment of the Tartar administration will be steady and certain. Many more battles have yet to be fought, Canton has to be recaptured, three provinces have to be subdued, the last of the Mings has to be driven into exile; but these events belong to the reign of Chuntche. At the point when the revival of Chinese courage received its check, and when Fuhkien, Kiangsi, and Hoonan, momentarily won back, were irrevocably lost, we may fitly close our account of the Manchu conquest of China.
How a small Tartar tribe succeeded, after forty years of war, in imposing its yoke on the sceptical, freedom-loving, and intensely national millions of China, will always remain one of the enigmas of history. We have traced the course of these campaigns, but, even while venturing to indicate some of the causes of their success, we must still come to the conclusion that the result exceeded what would at any time during the struggle have been thought to be credible. The military genius of Wou Sankwei, the widely prevalent dissensions among the people, and the effeteness of the reigning House, on the one hand, and the superior discipline, sagacity, VOL. I.
and political knowledge of the Tartars on the other, are some of the principal causes of the Manchu success that at once suggest themselves to the mind. But in no other case has a people, boldly resisting to the end, and cheered by occasional flashes of victory, been subjected, after more than a whole generation of war with a despised and truly insignificant enemy, in the durable form in which the Manchus trod the Chinese under their heel, and secured for themselves all the perquisites and honour accruing to the governing class in one of the richest and largest empires under the sun. The Chinese were made to feel all the bitterness of subjection by the imposition of a hated badge of servitude, and that they proved unable to succeed under this aggravation of circumstances greatly increases the wonder with which the Manchu conquest must ever be regarded.
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THE MANCHU DYNASTY.
The Reign of Chuntche.
WHILE these campaigns were in progress the youthful Emperor Chuntche, under the guidance of his prudent uncle, the Regent Ama Wang, was doing his best by wise and moderate conduct to attract to his person and administration the sympathy of his new subjects. And his efforts were not unavailing, for the Chinese were themselves anxious to secure and enjoy all the benefits that come in the train of a settled government. At first it seemed as if he was to attain a greater measure of success than his hopes could have conceived to be possible, for after the victories of Wou Sankwei and the collapse of the Nankin power most of the provinces gave in their adhesion to the new rule. It was then that orders were issued from Pekin that the Manchu officers should show great moderation in their dealings with the people, and that all who surrendered should be allowed to retain their goods and liberty-instructions at variance with their national customs, and with many of the practices of eastern war.
The measures taken for the overthrow of the Prince of Kwei had to a great extent denuded the northern provinces of troops, and those operations were still uncrowned with success when there broke out in Shensi a revolt that threatened to further embarrass the Manchus, who now seemed to be masters only of the ground on which they stood. The Manchu troops left in that province by Wou Sankwei when he passed southward to annex Szchuen consisted principally, if not solely, of the garrison of Singan. Three thousand